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Itsu secures investment to fund 100 kitchen projects over next five years

Itsu Great Portland Street, London

Asian-inspired food brand Itsu has signed a significant deal with international alternative asset group, Bridgepoint.

The chain said the partnership secures “tremendous growth” for the business, including 100 new outlets, creating 2,000 new jobs in the UK alone within the next five years.

Itsu‘s founder Julian Metcalfe said: “We are thrilled to be teaming up with Bridgepoint again after our success together at Pret a Manger during the dynamic 2008-2018 era. We’ve spent months in lockdown working with them to ensure Itsu will be well-funded for long-term growth.

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“Never before has enjoying healthy, nutritious food been so uppermost in customers’ minds. This is what Itsu does beautifully for about £7 per head.”

Bridgepoint will take a “meaningful minority stake” in the group as part of the deal and provide substantial investment to open up to 100 new sites.

These new sites are in addition to the agreement Itsu has recently struck with Pizza Hut and other major franchise operators in the UK, France, and Belgium.

Meanwhile, Itsu’s grocery business is enjoying 70% growth in sales of its Asian-inspired foods across the UK supermarkets and health food shops.

Total sales for the group in 2022 are forecast to be well in excess of £170m.

Regarding the pandemic, Mr Metcalfe said: “Outside London, we are already busier than before. It is so evident that customers value nutritious, fresh food more than ever. Very shortly we hope to re-open the remaining centrally located stores that have been closed since last September.

“The pandemic has caused chaos and so much suffering in our industry on top of the looming challenge of a severe shortage of young European chefs and huge food inflation. The truth is, despite these difficulties Itsu’s modern menu is keeping us busy and buoyant. It’s an unexpected and very exciting time for us.”

Benoit Alteirac, partner of Bridgepoint, said there is a clear global expansion opportunity for Itsu.

“Their standout offer is an exciting and contemporary attitude to healthy and nutritious food with nearly 40% of it being plant-based. Itsu combines affordable, convenient and fresh food with an outstanding operational model coupled with deep-rooted brand values. We recognise their time is now and their ambition, goals and purpose are so relevant in this post pandemic era.”

Itsu is currently building new restaurants in Reading, St Albans, Holborn as well as Belgium and plans to roll out its digital kiosks across all sites to complement its sushi robots and customer loyalty app.

The rice cooker tale that reveals how Itsu founder Julian Metcalfe built an empire

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Andrew Seymour

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